Guess what? I just signed up for a dance class. We’ll put that one in the category of “never say never”, although I must admit that had I known it was this easy to meet girls, I would have started my first dancing class years ago. In all seriousness though, a strange combination of events and a “what the hell” moment made me give up my autograph and plunk down a big wad of cash for something I never thought I’d do.
Long story short, one of my friends kept egging me on to join her and two other friends who already signed up for the class. If you get me drunk enough it’s apparently really easy to get me to say “let’s do this!”, so for the next seven weeks I’ll be following a basic course in something that’s called Lindy hop, a 1930s swing-type of dance to jazzy tunes. Being an avid saxophone player, at least the music is my cup of tea.
Apart from the booze, there are a couple of reasons why I agreed to join them. The first one being that I really like to hang out with the three friends that wanted to Lindy hop, and between crazy-busy work and writing stuff on my blog for you guys, it’s not always been easy to meet up with them. A second reason is that I felt like I had been doing the same thing day-in, day-out. There was an inherent need to broaden my horizon and do something completely new – and so it came to pass.
Why I’m writing all of this may not be immediately apparent – after all, I could have easily mentioned the dance class as an expense in my monthly savings report and be done with it – but after reading Jason from Dividend Mantra’s post on his daily non-routine yesterday, I felt like my dancing class was closely related to two things he mentioned within the framework of financial independence: staying hungry and having fun.
Staying hungry refers to an inherent force that drives you to seek, learn, and experience new things on a fairly constant basis. It’s like Jason said, if you’re not motivated to do something, you’ll just stay in bed all day, waiting until depression sets in. That motivation and activity then leads to having fun, which is ultimately what living is all about. “What’s the point of all this if we can’t have fun?”, Jason rightfully asks.
As we get older, our comfort zone automatically shrinks. We know what works for us, we know what we like, we know what makes us happy, so why would we look for new and unproven experiences? To me, it’s this kind of thinking that many people fall victim to once they start their retirement. It’s a well-known fact that retirees and the elderly prefer the comfort of their own home instead of enjoying what the city they live in has to offer.
When I look at my own grandparents, however, that’s not the case. Rarely have I seen an eighty-year-old couple enjoy life so vigorously. Not only do they still have goals at 82 and 79, it’s nearly impossible to meet up with them because they’re always out and about experiencing new things. Not too long ago they decided to try sushi for the first time, now the Japanese specialty is part of their regular diet.
Being open to new experiences and constantly pushing the boundaries of your own comfort zone keeps you mentally sharp. By constantly challenging yourself, your brain won’t turn on its dreaded autopilot mode until you kick the bucket. On top of that, it gives you the chance to maintain old friends and build new social connections, like I did by signing up for my dance class.
If you’re looking to reach financial independence or to retire early you better be hungry for more and be in it to have some fun. Why else would you want to be financially free in the first place? Sitting on your butt all day doing nothing gets boring really fast even when you’re rich, trust me. Financial independence is as much about saving and investing, as it is about growing yourself as a person, like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave showed.
Be mindful, however, that you don’t push yourself too far. Learning how to dance is one thing, but taking on twenty new challenges at a time is another. Don’t overload yourself with new experiences for the sake of broadening your horizon. Only go after things you think will add value to your life, just like when you analyse the viability of a business’ position in your investing portfolio.
At the moment I’m really happy that I decided to expand my comfort zone because I had a lot of fun with my friends during the first class. When I finally do reach financial freedom, I now know that I can direct my future free time and intellectual hunger to pursuing other dance styles, as unlikely as that sounds at this point in time. And even if my little dancing excursion on the road to financial independence had crashed and burned, it wouldn’t have mattered in the slightest. At least I would then now that dancing just isn’t for me.
Getting to financial independence is fine and dandy, but don’t forget to experience life and to have fun along the way. Otherwise you’ll fall into the black hole that is your own comfort zone once you become financially free. Ask yourself on a regular basis if you do anything to step outside of your comfort zone, and if so, how that impacts your life.
What have you recently done to expand your comfort zone and to experience new things? Be sure to let everyone know in the comments!
NWM – very philosophical 🙂 but I have to take issue with
“As we get older, our comfort zone automatically shrinks.” – at 25 (you) that statement cannot not possibly apply! 🙂
I think you touched on what I call “mental age” vs. “chronological age” – i.e. how old do you fell vs. the number of clocks ticks that have gone by. btw – if you feel older than you are it’s time for serious rethink of life.
Having reached FI, life is all about new stuff and having the time (and $) to do them. Let’s see in the last 2 years I’ve tried flying a helicopter (major adrenalin rush), indoor sky diving (very cool but the real thing is a better), major house redecoration (all sorts of new skills) and off for a 10 week trip to SE Asia (that darn travel bug poison).
Honestly I don’t remember how I ever have time to actually work.
oh and congrats on the dance lessons !
Trust me, at 25 I already feel my comfort zone shrinking! Just think of how eager you were to try new things when you were a kid. I’m guessing everyone is a lot more conservative in searching for new experiences when they grudually move into adulthood.
What you say about mental and chronological age is true, however. To me my mental age also depends on the context. At work, for example, I feel much older than when I’m with my friends goofing around.
You seem to be living the dream! And so awesome that you’re trying out new and exciting things all the time. You definitely understand what it means to be ‘retired’!
No time to work? Talk about a first world problem! 🙂
Hope everything is well over there,
Great idea! Getting out of your comfort zone is so important because that is where you really grow!
Lately I’ve been doing that in a few ways, by making myself attend more events that I normally wouldn’t and by taking some kickboxing classes – it’s not my thing but I’m enjoying trying out new things I normally wouldn’t!
At a certain point in life getting out of your comfort zone indeed is one of the easiest ways to grow as a person. That’s why I believe it’s important we keep doing it, even if it’s not really necessary anymore.
Kickboxing sounds awesome! Although I’d probably hurt myself more than anything else, I’d also like to try it one day. Hope you have a ton of fun!
There’s always one unsuspecting guy at wedding receptions that really knows how to dance, we’re talking spins, flips, and fancy footwork. Everyone else secretly wants to be that guy and now you get to! Dancing is known to make people way happier in life! This is an excellent investment of your time for so many reasons and this whole post put a big smile on my face. Thank you for sharing!
Unless there’s a ton of booze and an ambulance waiting at the exit, you most likely won’t see me performing any back flips or fancy spins! Even though I have a great feeling for rythm, I’m as stiff as a rake. 🙂
Glad to have put a smile on your face!
Hope you’re well,
Attaboy! Thats the spirit on getting out of your comfort zones and getting into new activities. I think your grandparents are onto somethign there – where they are constantly trying something new and having goals even at the age of 80.
I try to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone regularly – but Ive fallen a bit lazy over the past few months and ahvent really tried anything new. Maybe its the winter. Makes me want to stay home and avoid getting out and doing things.
Enjoy your dance classes.
It’s great that you actively try to push yourself out of your comfort zone! I truly believe it keeps us young and fit. I understand that your desire to go outside and experience something new is lower during the winter times – I’m the same way. Can’t wait for summer to start!
The dance classes are still a lot of fun, thank you!
Very inspirational. I’m signing up a public speaking and improv class next week. Dance lessons are in the future!
I hope your public speaking and improv class is going to be a lot of fun! Those type of classes can teach you a lot about yourself and can help you overcome any social worries you might have.
Can’t wait to read about your first lesson on your blog!
Being fluent in French, learn formal dance, play the piano well are my big three that I would like to master when I reach my financial freedom, because right now, I’m working odd hours, and it’s hard to sign up for a stable class.
Good luck with dance class, all these dance classes, there always short of men. You’ll be very popular. 🙂
Three excellent goals that you’ll definitely achieve once you have enough time on your hands. French, dancing and piano make you sound like a very classy lady, by the way. 🙂
You’re right about me being popular. There aren’t nearly enough men around during the classes, so yay!
Thank you for dropping by,
Don’t you speak French? I had to put down going to visit Belgium and had to meet you offline demanding some chocolate.
I’m lady-like in training, no full class yet. Hihi :p
I’m from the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, but I do speak French. Because I don’t talk it all that often, my proficiency has gone down compared to a couple of years ago though.
Let me know when you’re visiting Belgium so we can arrange a meet-up!
If you think about it, taking a dancing class now is a little preview of what FI will be like. It let’s you try things that you never had the time to try when you were working a typical day job. That’s awesome that you’re taking the class now. You never know what might come of it!
You’re exactly right! It’s great that I already get to experience true financial independence while I’m still on my way there. At the moment I have to hurry home after class because I have to get up early in the morning, but once I’m FI I could very easily hang out and chat with some of the people there.
I’d love to learn how to Lindy Hop! Dance lessons are something on me and the Mr’s someday list. I figure it’s a skill for a lifetime.
I’m learning the ukulele. Playing even part of a song and singing along in front of my friends makes me nervous. But it’s fun and it’s getting easier.
It’s pretty awesome! Love the music from that era and the dance style is a lot of fun because you can’t really do anything wrong as long as you stick to the rythm. You should definitely try it out with the Mr’s!
How did you come up with playing the ukelele? That’s not a popular instrument to learn – very cool! 🙂 You’ll quickly lose your fear to perform in front of an audience once you feel more comfortable, trust me. Just make sure to have fun and the rest will follow.
I watched a documentary on netflix, there is a famous guy from Hawaii playing the ukulele at great speed and very beautifully, even the instrument only have 1 octave.
Growing up listening to my brothers playing the guitar, so I want to play, but string instrument can be painful. Wish you all the luck and patience to get through it. Post some youtube songs.
Dancing is awesome! Glad you’re able to find something that is fun for you, and you can do it in an affordable way. I blogged about some of the tendencies that young Americans have now a days with spending their money. It’s important to have fun and to do it at the right price, which is something you’ve mastered! If you have a chance, I’d appreciate if you checked out my blog! Thanks!
It’s a lot more fun than I imagined it would be. If you ever have the chance, you should definitely try it for yourself. 🙂
I already checked out your blog – even left a comment. Looking forward to more!
Great stuff for signing up for a dance class. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it and become a fabulous dancer.
I don’t know about fabulous, but at least I’m having fun! 🙂
Great idea. Love it!
I’m about as coordinated as my couch, so dancing is out for me. But I admire your desire to stretch your interests and see what’s out there in the world. You never know what might happen or who you might meet. This could lead to the love of your life or perhaps some experience that you’ll never forget. Every day is a new opportunity to experience something new and interesting. Hope you enjoy it!
Haha, trust me, I’m as stiff as a rake too when it comes to coordinated movement, but at least I’ve got a sense for rythm. I’m probably not really good at dancing, but it’s a lot of fun and that’s what counts.
It’s like you said, you won’t know what you’ll run into when you don’t get out there and do stuff. That’s the main reason why I constantly try to expand my comfort zone.
Hope you’re well,
I would like to think that I am a good dancer, reality is I have two left feet, hopefully someday I can have an unlimited dance with my partner under the moon with a little bit of wine. Have fun with your newly found hobby!
Having a dance under the moon with your partner and a bottle of wine sounds like a very romantic thing to do. I hope you get to experience that one day!
Love your attitude. You should always be challenging yourself. Recently I started doing Yoga which is very foreign to me being the most unflexible man in the world. I sure dont fit the type either. My wifey thinks a hot girl is gonna steal me away now and I gotta check in with her after session is done lol.
Right! Challenging yourself is the best way to grow as a person and get ahead. By not doing so, you’ll slowly fall behind and you’ll never be able to catch up again.
Ha, I challenge you to a flexibility contest – I bet you’re more flexible than I am! I’d be worried to if I was your wife though, I’ve heard that those classes are chock-full of young girls. 😉
Have fun doing Yoga!
That is awesome. I probably should have taken some dance lessons before my wedding, but alas I did not. Anything you do to stay active and you have fun doing it is worth it. My wife and I play social soccer (football for you) about once a week for 3/4 of the year. Its awesome fun exercise and we meet good people.
For me I have gone to California on my own., though to be honest it was for work not to stretch my comfort zone. However, the training I am at is out of my comfort zone – learning to work on radioactive stuff. Which really is not that bad honestly, but scares the hell out of most people. The work is radically different from other environmental stuff for sure.
From the West Coast,
It seems like everyone is worried about the opening dance of their wedding even though none of the guests really cares if it’s performed well or not, haha.
Great that you play football with your wife. Having played it myself for at least 17 years, I know how much fun it can be and how you get to meet tons of new people on a regular basis. Keep at it!
Working on radioactive stuff sounds bad-ass! If I read about a nuclear accident in California in the news, I’ll know it was you. 🙂 Just make sure you don’t end up like Marie Curie.
Have fun in CA,
“although I must admit that had I known it was this easy to meet girls, I would have started my first dancing class years ago.”
Why do you think I used to go to so many football matches? 😉
But seriously, good for you trying out something new and like you say, outside of your comfort zone. Dancing is not something many guys would choose, so bravo!
I find that I get pushed outside of my comfort zone quite a lot at work so I tend to not try too many new things at home.
That said, starting home brewing last year was something new and I have just signed up to do an online course, something which I’ve never done before.
New experiences and new things to talk about.
I’m looking forward to new hobbies when I no longer have to work, or the resurrection of old hobbies.
Dancing definitely isn’t something I’d have pursued if it was up to me, but the opportunity presented itself, so why not grab it? Having a lot of fun!
I understand that you don’t expand your comfort zone too much in your personal life when work is already pushing you hard. If you overdo it you might feel unhappy or uncomfortable all the time, which is no good. The home brew beer seems to be working out great though!
Just like you, I have so many old hobbies to get back to once I have the time. It’s one of the main drivers behind my FI effort.
If only I had thought of that when I was younger (sounds like a great way to meet the ladies). Good luck!
Haha, I don’t think wanting to meet girls is the right motivation, but it’s definitely a good way to get into contact with a lot of them at the same time! 🙂 Thanks, bud!